Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry Christmas again

Well, it certainly has been a while since the last update.

I'm not going to go through all the details of whats been going on in the past eight months or so, but it's been a roller coaster.

I've had the privilege to play a number of festivals the past summer, including Shambala, Entheos, and Powell street festival. I always said, I won't go to a festival unless i play it.... This past summer did that in spades ....

Entheos was my first festival, and it turned out to be a very personal affair, after a mixup with stages, but in the end, we played a great se in the right place, with an audience I truly connected with having done some guerilla PR. We were blessed to have Adham Shaihk attend and share his wisdom afterwards ... Te set rocked despite the xoxbox deciding to go out of tune at will ...

Powell street was an amazing show, as this is the first time vie played with a live taiko drummer (Eian Hunter-Ishikawa) and Alcvin ... W had a big audience (500+) and a wonderful reception ...

Shambalah was anexperience of its own. being the biggest electronic music festival in this povince, it was quite an experience. I played with grooved whale, Alcvin, and Kirk Watson, and we created magical spaces and grooves.... I was also a learning experience, as i took a lot out of playing under the control of someone elses's midi clock....

So that was my summer ... Busy With music and busy with a new job ...

I learned a heck of a lot about gear and outdoor interactions, but also about the

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The last few months

It has been quiet on this blog - I have been busy performing, collaborating, practicing, taking drum lessons, and working on other projects.

Sequential Circus 6 on January 23, 2010 was fantastic,
amazing, and fun!
It was amazing to experience and play along such awesome local and international artists such as noCore, LongWalkShortDock, Daega Sound System, xFive, and to witness Resonance's debut set. Sweet!

(Deaga Sound System, LongWalkShortDock)

I played my heart out with
Amrit Basi performing live drum loops on acoustic drums, me on my loop based system, and vocals, and Theda Phoenix came by for some vocals as well.

(Haagen with Amrit Basi)

Here is the recording from the Odyssey set I played at Sequential Circus 6 (performed later in the studio live with Alcvin Ramos):

Haagen, Odyssey(2010) by dasz

This was the 1st time I performed my own vocals live. It was also the 1st time I used a looper (recorder/mixer) live, to capture my performance (electronics and vocals) and re-use in the set. All, live recorded right there, and unique.

I really enjoyed my set, and spent enough time practicing my chops on the looper and on the live sequence editing/re-composing, in the week leading up to the gig, and I think it paid off.

The interesting thing, was I was the only performer that night without a laptop!

Go figure. Very old skool, very much a tactile approach. When one takes the laptop out of the performance, it does take on a different life performance wise, than if the performer is staring and focusing at a laptop for a big part of the show (even when the display is laying horizontally, the interaction with a laptop LCD screen during an artistic endeavor is something that can become cliche at least from a visual point of view). Even the new Ableton matrix-style controllers
(akai or novation) are adding this dimension to performance with Ableton Live, but I chose to use what I have to perform similar tasks, and in turn, doing so, my unique performance (and supporting system) can be enhanced and enchanted, and the results of this add to the overall experience of mystique, unpredictability, and more hands-on performance that a laptop could not deliver, speaking for myself, of course only.

I could totally deliver as I had enough of an arsenal to do a 45 minute set. But it got me thinking about putting the laptop into my performance (especially if I intend to do longer sets, like 1or 2 hour ones), without it affecting my live work (meaning I would not need to look at a laptop screen or touch its keyboard or mouse, except to load new songs).

And then 4 days later I composed and prepared a new set and performed it with an awesome ensemble (DARK Risms) at the Haiti Benefit at the Wise hall on January 28, 2010:

I performed all electronics, grooves, and live looping, including live performance and live loops from Alcvin Ramos on shakuhachi flute , with Amrit Basi on drums, Kurai Mubaiwa Kurai on finger piano and vocals, and Lisa Walker on electronic percussion, meant this was an impactful event. The crowd was hooked.

Haagen-Ryuzen, Deep Dark Risms for Haiti (Live) by dasz

I truly enjoy looping on the fly tremendously, both electronically, and using my voice and collaborators and guest musicians, and custom performance systems....

I'm now doing a new down-tempo set with Alcvin and Sparrow on vocals.

Technically, the same live performance design is now expanding.

I am now adding
Ableton Live (and some VSTi's) into my setup in such a way that I will NOT need to look at a computer screen but, with all control being performed with with my Dual Expanded Nord Modular G2 performance system (with a peavey pc1600 fader box for additional mixing controls and routing and tweaking), the 2880 Looper with individual track routing, synth-wise, the full sound of Waldorf Blofeld, and x0xb0x for that 303 sound, and with a newly acquired sm57 mic (thanks to LongWalkShortDock for that recommendation) for vocals and instruments.

Till next time.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

loops, vocals and the live factor

Loop based performance feels right, makes the whole event FUN and different.

My material for the new set, is really only the beginnings. I use the patterns and melodies as templates which I evolve, thus I am not using too many of them. each pattern has controls such as speed (2x,1x,1/2x,1/4x) transpose (engaged/off, +/- semitones), gate, accent. then it has my Note group. These define the notes in my sequence. A few notes is all it takes (so I have a note offset per note in my note group), so I can easily have the notes for 2 or 3 tracks in front of me, which gets FUN. the concept is found and used in the Brussels sequencer in this post.

So in my set, big parts are unwritten and evolved only through tweaking of such controls.

Progressions are played live, certain step notes are dropped in out or transposed to evolve a part into a new area and the whole thing is looped, then a second layer at 1/2 speed of a different part here and there sprinkled throughout the groove and layered upon. then I go into other parts and vocals too (my own live vocal loops and singing too) to add to the live slant of the performance to get closer to the croud and to see where this takes me. now this gets fun

Vocals, live and what not.

In the middle of the holidays I recorded my favourite vocalist (whose angelic voice was my xmas gift this year! Wow what a gift, these vocals carry so much passion, they are fun, reusable quirky, and good feel for me.

Her voice in captured in many samples which will soon be played from my white synthesizer, the waldorf blofeld which can morph these samples into analog lushness soooo smoothly. +1 on the waldorf License SL option.

My looper lets me run 3 simultaneous stereo loops which is more than I need but nice to have. fading between loop different loops is where I can take a break and repeat. having said that, i can't store more than 3 stereo loops simultaneously. which means I have to record new stuff quite often. which makes it scary, fun, and always guaranteed to sound different (if the looper is employed). I did have an incident with my looper where stopped working but I managed to get it back -- good to know before you play live what kinds of things to expect from your gear,

cause Murphy is a b-tch, whatever can go wrong, will go wrong at some time. Makes it really fun and satisfying to get it all back though :)

Friday, December 25, 2009

catch my new live set on electro-music.com NYE stream

My friends at electro-music.com are playing recording of my new set live on Dec 31, 2009 nye live stream. More info (time, link) will follow soon.


hey there, merry xmas!

i've been busy around the holidays but I've managed to find time to put into the new set. Just recently some changes happened, once again.

the major change is the re-introduction of my yamaha rs7000 h/w sequencer because of a few important features
1. the rock solid and unterrupted midi clock regardless of what any other piece of gear is doing
2. the ability to rewind/restart with the touch of a button
3. the ability to sequence and mute drum tracks (including fills)
5. and have another (3rd) row of blinky lights to edit my sequences simulanously (since my x0xb0x has them, as does the Nord G2)
6. the ability to launch clips in the blofeld which will soon include vocals.
7. the ability to sync up to a dj using tap temp

i have been practising the performance, mixing, cueing aspects of my gig and it's getting stronger. each time around it is different and fun. the way i like it. the only downside is that if you don't practise, you lose your chops, and the set sounds weaker until you've brushed up and warmed up again. and using the looper actively means more diversity and better chops, and more time to think and try different things.

with some newly recorded vocals from Theda Miller, the set is gaining momentum, with more depth and beauty. that was my xmas gift.

my rig at this point is:
1. Nord G2 (mixer. loop router, drum synth, sequencer, grooves)
2. x0xb0x with recently installed sokks OS (highly recommended 3rd party x0xb0x firmware)
3. blofeld (with Theda Miller vocal samples)
4. electroharmonix 2880 looper
5. yamaha rs7000 (midi only)
6. a microphone

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Big shifts in workflow

Wow, what a week it has been since I got the 2880 looper. It has been a profound and complete shift in work flow for me and what at a great alignment of my skills over time and layers it has been! Yikes, wow, blush, :P

The live looper has added so much in terms of control, definition and depth (and I have to MIDI automate it in my single Nord G2 yet, wow I wonder what kind of control will feel like) . I could talk about how it's impacted me, but I will save that for another post, all I'll say for now it has made me more giddy and amazed than I have been in a looong time. The results speak (or rather sing) for themselves ;)

Hence, I have now redefined my whole setup and it's structure (with over 50 days to go to the gig to boot, which is good). I am now using 1 less Nord. Here is what my setup looks like:

1. Nord G2 expanded (with a Peavy PC1600 for dedicated physical control over mixer and loop routing control)

1.a Master patch
1.a.i mixer for internal and external sound sources.
1.a.ii looper recording router for internal and external sound sources. the looper router lets me assign a particular source (internal G2 drum and other sounds, x0xb0x, Blofeld, and my voice) to the looper for recording purposes. I can pre-listen on my G2, and when I bring up the Loop Record Level (Dry out) on the looper I hear my sound which is awesome for cueing it up, and I can layer to my hearts content.
1.a.iii sequencer for internal and external sounds with midi looping x 2 built in.
1.a.iv an fx system with external routing of fx (so effects happen per song)
1.b Groove/song 1 patch
1.b.i a groove built upon internal sequencing and sound sources (Loop Record Level / Dry out)
1.b.ii sequencer for internal and external sounds with midi looping x 2
1.b.iii song specific fx for the vocal, x0x and blofeld sources (send defined in 1.a.iv)
1.c Another groove/song 2 patch
1.d Empty - but it will get another groove/song patch probably

2. x0xb0x
slaved by Nord G2 and played when one or more sequencer in the G2 is sending it music. played by hand sometimes

3. Blofeld
slaved by Nord G2 and played when one or more sequencer in the G2 is sending it music. patches determined by hand. and played by hand sometimes

4. My Voice
well, it is mixed, fx-ed and looped as needed.

5. My 2880 Looper (but other loopers might work for you)
5.a My mixer
5.b My performance recorder and player and "layerer" (is that a word?)
5.c My in-between song filler

I have been testing this configuration in the last few days and it is growing on me. Back to loop land :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Long Loops, Less Gear

So I thought I had my structure figured out (see previous post). I have been designing looping for midi sequence and for audio (although the Nord does not offer a lot of memory for looping -- read on), but for my new direction, looping (capturing) performances is key.


Looping is a funny thing, it makes tweaking easier. Looping means if I can perform a piece of my music and loop it, then add a layer or record another loop, so I can do other things and load new material up, play and see how a sound might work with the rest. Which I could do before, but I could not record my all my tweaks. The Nord G2 is simply not able to do such a thing since it does not record MIDI files, or Long Audio loops. So I decided to go elsewhere for that and give it a shot.


Funny thing, what a little box can bring. The little box is a Electroharmomix 2880 Looper which can record very long loops of audio and mix them and layer them.


I have spent a few hours with it and I am, ahem, quite happy with the results.

Essentially its giving me what I have been wanting to do with a Nord G2, but it's main limitation is only a single 2.7sec (or 5.4sec using memory from both the voice and fx areas) which amounts to 4 beats which is not long enough for evolving layering and tweak recording. So I talked to few people, and heard about the Electroharmonix 2880 Looper.

The little 2880 has up to 16 minutes per track and it has 6 tracks too (6 times that which I could barely struggle to use in 1 g2 looping up to 8 bars only.

So check it out. I have now no reason to have 2 g2's in my setup. I simply use 1 G2 (drums and grooves), a x0xb0x and a blofeld as sources of loops. Seriously. And the other cool things is, I can load new patches in my Nord G2 (1 Nord, expanded) without missing a beat (since the looper keeps playing what it has previously recorded. What could be simpler than that?

And I am finding that I can pull up any Nord patch and decide if it fits. Which means I could perform tracks only from my gear live, or capture bits and pieces meaning I have more control over tweaks over time.

These are some big changes for my workflow, mind you I will not drop my live midi sequence recording in the Nords or live looping voice lines, it will mean less gear to worry about (and a Nord G2 is a very good keyboard to keep safe from accidents during gigs), and a hell of a lot of fun.

One other nice surprise to using a looper, I don't have to run my gear at max capacity all the time, nor do I have to tweak all my gear all the time. Meaning I can build tracks with less equipment. And have more fun and less work.

This does not mean my loops will be prerecorded. I am a big believer in LIVE performance. Nope, all loops are generated live and tweaked as before, but now recorded and overdubbed and layered over long periods of time. So more of what I really like to do, and a little less work for me, but the depths of creativity and possibilities get multiplied.

Change is good

I am glad I am testing different performance concepts now, still far from my gig. If you're going to introduce new concepts into your rig, don't do it close to a gig.

Back to the looping. I will post more details of my progress later